A Quaker Theology of Worship

The roots of the traditional Quaker theology of worship are found in George Fox’s experience of the Inner Light—that sense of the divine and direct working of Christ in the soul. He came to believe and subsequently taught that the same experience is available to all. The purpose of worship, therefore, is to wait in silence and then respond to the presence and power of God.

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Worship and Sacred Actions Throughout the Year in the Friends (Quaker) Churches

Quakers have historically rejected symbolism, the observance of special days, and other ceremonies and forms as human inventions. They regard such ceremonies and forms as unnecessary when individual believers can experience the Spirit of God directly. In addition, they believe avoidance of such externals protects believers from the idolatry into which humankind so easily falls.

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Missions to the Native Americans

Sadly the Indians came to be regarded as wards of the Government, and it became national policy to place them on specified reservations. The missionaries sent out by Eastern societies were the only groups sympathetic to this maltreatment and they tried to help by building schools, churches, and clinics.

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Quakers in the New World

Within ten years about sixty preachers were imitating Fox. Few leaders of high standing joined them, except for William Penn, an admiral’s son, who was able to plant a Quaker colony in America in 1681. From here the Quakers carried their message through the colonies. In parts of the South, they were the most popular of the religious sects. Their idiosyncrasies, however, annoyed the Puritans of Boston so much that several persons were hung after a sentence of banishment had failed to dispose of them. In the Middle colonies, they became one of the most respectable and prosperous elements in society.

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I BOW MY FOREHEAD TO THE DUST

John Greenleaf Whittier, commonly known as the “Quaker Poet,” was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts in 1807. Beginning life as a farm boy and village shoemaker, and with only a limited education, he entered the profession of journalism in 1828.

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